Beautiful NonFiction

In a Different Key: The story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker was so much more than, and yet also exactly, what I though it would be. I wanted, needed, to know the history of this developmental difference and what this book provided was a history richly woven together in a well written, entertaining narrative that kept me engaged and learning throughout the massive book.

The narrative writing style almost lets the reader imagine that this is not the factual history of a vastly misunderstood mental anomaly, but instead some sort of historical novel to dive in to. The beginning story of the first (known) autistic child is interesting entertaining, and heart wrenching…and the book doesn’t slow down after that.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you’re looking to know more about autism, I definitely reccommend this work!

*I was provided this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review*

Review: A Boy Called CHRISTMAS

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Written for Middle Grade Readers (Ages 7-12/Grades 3-6), this book is an origin story, a fable, a history, a drama, a family tale, and much more. In this adorable story we meet and follow a boy who grows up to be Father Christmas.

I read this via the audiobook (provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review) and the story is amazing, grabs you right off the bat and keeps you in its grips…and the narrations by Stephen Fry are so spot on it feels like the smoothest and most natural thing in the world.

There are some difficult issues addressed within the folds of this story: loss of parents, extreme poverty, and violence…but along with that are the trappings of Finnish mythology, the impossibilities of life, and magic (LOTS of magic!).

I am not the biggest fan of Christmas stories, they often seem to be formulaic and cheesy as all get out. This is not one of those stories. This is an adventure, a fable, a legend in the making. This is a story to listen to every year, for all the years. Haig has created a story with a life of its own, and I loved it.

4.75 dragons (stars) to this beautifully written phenomenon.

The Curse of Crow Hollow | A Review

The Curse of Crow Hollow

By Billy Coffey

Published in 2015

Thomas Nelson Publishing

Summary:

With the “profound sense of Southern spirituality” he is known for (Publishers Weekly), Billy Coffey draws us into a town where good and evil—and myth and reality—intertwine in unexpected ways.

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

“Coffey spins a wicked tale . . . [The Curse of Crow Hollow] blends folklore, superstition, and subconscious dread in the vein of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery.’”

—Kirkus Reviews

 

Review:

I picked this up on Christmas Day, when I was in the mood for a thriller that would sweep me through the story and send tingles up and down my spine. Unfortunately, this was not that type of book. The narrator’s voice was confusing and wandered back and forth in time on a few occasions. The story meandered and took until 3/4 of the way through to really pick up and get exciting. I did, however, enjoy the look at small town beliefs and the type of people who inhabit such places and beliefs.

While the story is slow and slightly confusing at times, I did enjoy the journey and give this an overall rating of 3.25 dragons. If you like books dealing with secrets, lies, and demons…this is something you might want to pick  up!

The Snow Queen – Cloth Bound and Beautiful

This cloth bound, silver foiled, illustrated edition of Hans Christian Anderson’s timeless tale is even more beautiful than I expected it to be. The tall, skinny hardback feels gorgeous in your hand and the illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka create an atmosphere that combines with the beloved words into something that will stick with you. 41zbzfrlyul-_sx282_bo1204203200_

Published by Ten Speed Press, translated by Odense City Museums, this book brings to life the classic story of The Snow Queen with imagery that makes me feel a part of the story, and reminds me of the ancient picture book edition my mother no longer allows me to play with. Five out of five Dragons to this gorgeous book.

*I received the book in exchange for an honest review from blogging for books*

Idioms from Around the World

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This short, illustrated book of idioms from around the world includes a description of each word’s etymology, origin, and meaning for both the language of origin and English terms. The descriptions by Ella Frances Sanders are well done and interesting, but the illustrations steal the show! If you enjoy learning about word play, idioms from other languages, or just fun trivia you should definitely check out this book!

5 out of 5 dragons to this little knowledge fest.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review*

 

Color Your own Tattoo…

Megan Massacre, a tattoo artist and reality tv star, designs and creates gorgeous artwork for her customer’s bodies. Marketing those skills outside of television and tattooing, Ms. Massacre has created a coloring book of her designs entitle Marked in Ink and published by Crown Publishing. Guys…this book is gorgeous! Even if you never ever plan on getting a tattoo, this book is a beautiful and well made testament to art of many kinds.

The paper is heavy duty, the pages are printed on one side for easy display, and the artwork is amazing. I high suggest you go and check this out. 618ksslhCaL._SX372_BO1,204,203,200_

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas | Book Review

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Written By: Lynne Cox

Illustrated By: Brian Floca

Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade

Children’s Picture Book

Based on a True Story

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Author and swimmer Lynne Cox was on a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand gazing down at the waters of the Avon river when a boy asked if she was looking for Elizabeth, their elephant seal. Once she heard the story, Lynne knew she had to share this with the world! After some research and seeking permission from the town of Christchurch, Lynne brought us this beautiful book.

Brian Floca, a Caldecott award winning illustrator, created a beautiful look of pencil and watercolor looking images that marry the story and illustrations wonderfully.

This book follows the true story of Elizabeth, the elephant seal. Normally, elephant seals live in the cold waters of the ocean and no one is quite certain how or why Elizabeth wound up in the Avon river, but wind up there she did! A beloved member of the community, Elizabeth was quite happy to sun herself in Christchurch until the day she discovered her new favorite spot, across a busy road. The people of her town were afraid for her life and had her towed out to sea…three times. Elizabeth continued to find her way home.

The end of the book has some information on elephant seals that is very interesting and a great addition. I always love when authors include facts in the back of their books because it can lead to some amazing conversations with your child or students.  If you are a teacher working with students on either book reviews or science presentations dealing with animals this book could be something wonderful to help them along. I highly recommend this book for all ages!

 

Cover/illustrations – 4.5/5

Story/Writing Style – 4.5/5

Relatability – 5

Characters – 5

Things to learn – 5

Star Rating – 4.8

 

#ColoringAmerica | A Review

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I would like to talk to you today about yet another coloring book (I KNOW, I KNOW…I have an addiction. It won’t be fixed). But this one is pretty cool guys. I received God Bless America: A Patriotic Coloring Book recently, just in time for the 4th of July (WOOHOO!)

Now, when I requested this book for review from blogging for books, I had a few preconceptions to contend with.

#1 – the pictures would be simplistic..

FALSE! There were 9 illustrators given quotes to work with. Some are rendered simplistically, but nicely, while some are so gorgeously sketched for us that I don’t want to color the images. I want to leave the play of black ink on thick white paper all alone and stark with the quote woven throughout the page.

#2 – The quotes would ‘typical’…

FALSE! The quotes in this coloring book are a mixture of well and lesser known pieces from historically important people and documents. Each page has a beautiful illustration (apparently we’re meant to color them, I don’t know if I can!) and on the back of that page the full quote that phrase is pulled from (the song, the stanza, the paragraph) is listed, along with some information about the year, the author, etc. Bible verses are freely used.

#3 – This would be a ‘normal’ coloring book…

FALSE! I was SO wrong! This coloring book includes historical facts and information on the person who said or wrote the words in question, 9 different illustrators and hand letterers, an online quiz about the information in this book, and a SPOTIFY PLAYLIST to listen to in order to create a multi-media experience while coloring.

I am so enthralled with this book. I was looking for a new coloring book to add to my shelf and what I received is a book that I will be proud to use as a teaching tool. A book that contains historical facts, coloring pages, and a musical playlist is something that can be an amazing aid in helping students to remember facts about our nation and its history. These lessons could take many forms, like students creating a short presentation (perhaps multi-media even) around their chosen or assigned quote, writing prompts, and even a small group creating a lesson over the quote.

This book earned a 5 star review from me. If you enjoy coloring and are a patriotic American (Or just enjoy history) I would very much like to recommend this book to you!

Three More Picture Book Reviews

Hello everyone! While I’m busy writing, re-writing, reading, and trying to remember what I was actually SUPPOSED to be doing, I thought I would leave you fabulous people with a few quick reviews.

Most of you know that I have a little girl who is now 3 1/2 years old. She is beginning letter, number, and word recognitions and as a result we’ve managed to visit the library twice in the past week (maybe thrice) as we devoured about 18 children’s books that varied in length and type from picture books about animals to beginning readers on ballet, and even a middle grade super hero girls book!

I did video reviews for several of these, which can be found on my youtube channel (soon). However, I saved a trio of them just for you! So let’s get to the actual books, shall we? Why, yes we shall…

Let’s go from lowest to highest rating (according to the short person in charge):

First, with a rating a 5 stars for pages 1-5 and a rating of 2.5 stars for the rest of the book (we decided on a flat 3 star rating for Goodreads) is Stretch by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin

 

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This book starts out wonderfully. The dog is stretching in yoga type positions and demonstrating those through the illustrations, allowing children to see those movements and move along with the story. HOWEVER, after the first few pages the movements don’t make much sense anymore and the illustrations don’t give the audience much to go on.

They talk about animals stretching to show their spots…and just shows a leopard sitting there etc. We really love the premise and idea behind this book…but the execution was not nearly as amazing in practice.

Next let’s discuss the middle starred, Cindy Ellen by Susan Lowell and Illustrated by Jane Manning.

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This book is awesome. Well written, surprisingly illustrated, and an all round voice of western FUN. However, the short person insists that it is a mere 4 star read BECAUSE it doesn’t have as much ’emotion’ in it (that’s her phrase right there. I’m in way over my head with this one guys!). Apparently the story leading up to the climax isn’t nearly as deep as the real Cinderella. It is still a wonderful read and we highly recommend it.

Finally, coming in with 5 stars for being fun, with a capitol F-U-N, and for being a somewhat differently formatted and completely different type of story, we have Open Very Carefull: A Book With Bite. Written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne this book starts out with the idea that it wants to tell us the story of The Ugly Duckling, but things quickly change as a crocodile makes his appearance and begins to unceremoniously make his way straight through. This is fun, funny, whimsical, and has a good deal o’ BITE, the perfect combination for giggles with the kid(s).

Thank you for stopping by and checking out these reviews! We went by the library in the middle of writing this post and now have 10 more to check out to see if they’re worth your time 😉

Until next time, please let us know some of your favorite children’s books! We can always add more to the TBR list!!